Craft Making in the Internet Age

A craft making revolution is underway. Crafting culture is elevating and expanding the traditional economy of handicrafts. The recent developments have been stimulated by online media sites like Pinterest, which provide interactive forums for learning and sharing thousands of creative projects, while e-commerce sites like Etsy provide a global market reach for what are still essentially small-scale, locally produced goods. A know-the-producer connection has sprung up from social media interaction via blogging, personal websites and Facebook. While the tradition of handicrafts is maintained, the newly transformed economy has made crafting a lot more viable and lucrative as a result of the burgeoning, internet-connected crafting movement.

Despite the modern developments in the crafting community, however, much of the same basic and traditional things still go into making crafts: a good idea that encompasses a made item that’s unique, beautiful and useful. Crafting has, and always will involve creativity, talent, time, and attention to details while fashioning the item. One of the most important elements in the mix are the interesting and unusual materials that crafters utilize to bring their vision to life and functionality. While ideas have the potential to be trendy, cycling in, then out of fashion, or even utility, one crafting material, in particular, seems only to be growing more popular with time: essential oils. Crafts that are imbued with the rare aromas of these oils have another dimension of appeal that can’t be attained with anything else.

Essential oils are the extracted essences of various flowers, leaves, woods, etc. These are being employed in handcrafted home and body care products as well as in the alternative practice of aromatherapy. For crafters, essential oils offer a kind of powerful aromatic DNA signature to the crafting process, adding another aesthetic dimension and point of creative inspiration beyond the usual ideas or materials.

Getting Started with DIY Body Care

I love to create easy, effective products to use in my body care routines at home. I infuse homemade body butter or deodorant with essential oils for their specific aroma and effect.  I make nutrient dense facial masks and moisturizers with organic, single ingredient skin care oils, raw foods and clay powders to have a deeper connection to what comes directly from the earth.  And I take the time to really consider what I put on my skin and in my body because I know it all has a greater effect on my whole sense of wellness.

This is part of my self-care, but what does this type of care truly mean?  For me, self-care is a deep belief that embodies many small rituals and practices I try to incorporate in my daily life to achieve an overall state of balance and vibrant health.  Every aspect of my life is part of my understanding and practice of self-care because I know that each element has an influence on the next.  With that mindset, I have spent several years improving on what I put on my body to make the most out of the practice of body care.

Ultimately, true self-care is a practice in mindfulness.  The beautiful thing I have learned over the years from experimentation with making products on my own at home is that once the basics of DIY creation are understood, the practice of creating something very specific to my own needs is fun, engaging, meditative and empowering.  Here are some things I incorporate into my practice of homemade body care, which may help you get started down this path as well.

1. Know that you are the expert of YOU

For years, I chose the wrong facial products because I listened to other people tell me about my skin.  When I started paying attention to what my skin actually needs and stopped treating my skin as a whole, I was able to take better care of my skin. My skin changes with the weather, climate, location, time of month/year, etc. and I cannot use the same product on it day in and day out and expect to glow every day.  If I use argan oil as a moisturizer in the winter (which I do) it is the right fit for me.  But in the summer, it feels too heavy and I adjust it or use a lighter fatty oil that doesn’t leave my skin feeling oily in the summer heat.

2. Take time to create something at home to save time and money in the store

I don’t need a product designed to sit in a warehouse or on a shelf for years to take care of my skin.  If I spend a little time researching organic or raw ingredients and following simple recipes, I am sacrificing the convenience of a finished product.  But I am giving up on a high product price by creating something very specific to what I need right in my own kitchen.  This creates more space in my life for quality time at home doing what I love where I love to do it rather than chasing down the next quick fix product.

3. Keep the ingredients clean and simple

Many of the elements we crave in our skin care routines are found in foods and simple ingredients.  From fresh avocado to lavender essential oil, I know that using just one or two elements at a time is often all I need to create something meaningful, useful and effective for my skin.

5 reasons to create your own body care products

Creating your own body care products can be very rewarding for a variety of reasons. From having control over what goes in them, to customizing according to your preferences, to reducing waste, saving money and more.

1. You decide what goes in them

When you make your own DIY body care products, you know exactly what’s in them. If you choose to reduce your exposure to the common preservatives, fragrance and color chemicals found in many commercial body care products, then you can when you DIY.

2. You can customize according to your needs and preferences

DIY body care products let you customize the aroma, batch size and benefit from your own personal preferences and needs. Need a relaxing massage? Just mix a small amount of skin care oil with your choice of a gentle essential oil. Want a soap-free hand gel with a purifying benefit? Mix aloe vera gel with tea tree essential oil.

3. You can reduce waste

DIY body care products help you reduce waste because you’ll throw the less unused product away while reusing your own custom containers. Amber glass is the premium container for your DIY products because it’s recyclable, dishwasher safe and provides great protection against light degradation. Cut down on plastic waste by using your amber glass bottles over and over again.

4. You can save money

Yes, in addition to other great reasons, DIY body care products can save you money because you can buy ingredients in bulk and make just the amount you need. Aura Cacia skin care oils, for example, come in a variety of sizes so for instance, you could buy a 16-ounce container of sweet almond oil and fill a single 2-ounce amber glass bottle with a sweet almond oil based bath, body or massage oil 8 times over rather than buying the products 8 times.

5. Engage in simplicity and mindfulness

Finally, when you engage in the practice of making your own DIY body care products, you engage in simplicity and mindfulness. The process can be approachable for anyone who cares to be creative, cares about what they put on their body and cares about the impact those products have in the world. You don’t need to be a cosmetic formulator with a technical degree in product development when so many easy-to-make recipes are available and you have access to ingredients.

Quick tips for DIY hair care

Finding the right products to highlight the best aspects of my hair has been challenging, to say the least. After being told far too often as a child that my hair was ‘difficult’ and a myriad of bad salon experiences in my young life, I was left with some angry follicular issues as I moved into adulthood.

A trial and error approach

As I learned more about myself and my hair, it became clear to me that the solution was within my grasp. I figured out that I couldn’t wash my hair as often as my friends because my fine, tight curls are also very delicate and both dry out and break off easily. I discovered that I needed a whole lot more moisture and way fewer drying agents. It was a true trial and error process.

What I learned

My hair responds well to deep conditioning. Coconut oil and argan oil are mainstays in my weekly organic haircare regimen, along with a little help from rosemary essential oil and apple cider vinegar. I treat my hair as I treat my children – with a lot of love and care and respect. The result is that now, my hair once maligned by stylists for its difficulty is easy to manage and thrives without much shampooing. While I once spent hours straightening, spraying, gelling and mousing my curls into submission, I now run some argan oil through it while it is wet and I let it air dry. Easy, nourishing and authentic to the hair I have.

Try it for yourself

DIY hair care is all about learning what fits YOU. With the right amount of understanding of what your locks love, you can simplify your hair care regimen and feel good about what you put in your hair. Here are some tips I like to rely on with DIY hair care:

1. Know that if your hair is oily and thick, a coconut oil hair treatment, while trendy, isn’t the best fit for you. Stay true to your hair and pick the right oil to use in conditioning based on what your hair needs, not what your favorite blogger recommends.

2. Simple, naturally derived ingredients like clay powder, cornstarch, argan oil and avocado oil can go a long way in the creation of dry shampoos and homemade conditioners.

3. The right essential oils can help with the aroma of your DIY haircare product AND can contribute to a happy scalp.

4. Organic vegetable glycerin is an ideal swap for heavily formulated, silicone based frizz and flyaway serums. A couple of drops can tame flyaway hair with ease.

Homemade deodorant: The quest for a clean counter to body odor

For years I have searched for the perfect clean alternative to commercial deodorant. Perfect for me, that is. Not one to be overly concerned about sweat or perspiration (it is natural and healthy for the body to perspire, so why to suppress it?), I wanted something that was a good counter for body odor that was also effective — meaning, something that would last longer than an hour or two.

Before I explored homemade deodorant, I tried many naturally derived, store-bought deodorants, which have a bit of a bad rap. They aren’t as effective as the consumer wants them to be, often requiring reapplication throughout the day. In some cases, the ingredients in these deodorants aren’t as clean as we want them to be, which can also prove to be a challenge.

After a little bit of digging, I found a couple of recipes online that were quite simple to make in my own kitchen. I tweaked the recipes to create a formula that incorporated some of the best aromatic effects of the chosen essential oils and to give them a stronger odor fighting punch. Once all the ingredients were gathered, it took less than 15 minutes to create a cream deodorant that rivaled a natural version I paid a tidy sum for someone else to make for me. Never again with this recipe. I am happy to report it worked well — sometimes for a couple of days at a time, and didn’t leave permanent white streaks on my clothing.

What you need to make your own homemade deodorant:

1. Baking soda

A key ingredient in clean deodorant, baking soda can be used on its own for a simple deodorant as a paste made with water. It is a must-have in any homemade deodorant recipe, as it is free of harsh chemicals and very effective at keeping odor at bay.

2. Powdered clay

Another great component used to fight odor, clay comes in a lot of varieties. I like bentonite clay, but other powdered clays can be used as well. However, color rich clays are generally not recommended as they could cause discoloration to the skin.

3. Coconut oil

Great for fighting odor and for moisture, coconut oil was is the key binding ingredient for the dry powders.

4. Cornstarch or arrowroot powder

Either powder can be used to absorb moisture. This is great for keeping underarms dry.

5. Essential oils

Essential oils contribute the desired aroma to homemade deodorant. Choose gentle oils like bergamot (bergapten-free), lavender, coriander or geranium because the underarm is a sensitive area. Bergamot (bergapten-free) essential oil, in particular, is great because it is a terrific odor fighter with a fresh, light scent. Be sure to use a bergapten-free version because the bergapten in standard bergamot essential oil makes the skin susceptible to UV radiation should your skin be exposed to sunlight.

It’s important to know that these ingredients function primarily as deodorants and not antiperspirants. Perspiration, specifically underarm sweat, is a normal function of a healthy body. The body odor that sweating produces can be a nuisance, but fortunately, it can be controlled naturally through regular washing and the application of a deodorant. Unlike antiperspirants, which can be formulated with substances which plug and suppress the sweat gland, deodorants won’t interfere with the normal functioning of these glands. Deodorants can interrupt the formation of body odor by decreasing the bacteria that cause body odor, as well as helping to mask body odor when it does occur. Essential oils provide cleansing and purifying aroma benefits to the mix. Essential oils are easy to incorporate into completely natural DIY homemade deodorants which will feature less worrisome, more wholesome ingredients than conventional commercial versions which often rely on odor neutralizing chemicals, drying alcohol, bactericides, and synthesized fragrances.

Powder Deodorant with Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Hands-on Time: 15 mins
  • Makes: 4 ounces

A deeply floral DIY powder deodorant made with baking soda, corn starch, rice, and ylang-ylang essential oil.

ingredients:

  • 48 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
  • 4-ounce Amber Wide Mouth Jar with Writable Label
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon uncooked rice
  • cotton ball or powder puff

directions:

1. Into jar, measure baking soda.

2. Add ylang-ylang essential oil and stir until a damp powder form.

3. Add corn starch and rice and stir until well mixed.

4. To use, apply deodorant to under arms using a cotton ball or powder puff.

 

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